Differences in Neural Mechanosensitivity Between Patients with Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain With and Without Neuropathic Features. A Descriptive Cross-Sectional Study

Pain Med. 2016 Jan;17(1):136-48. doi: 10.1111/pme.12856.


Objective: To assess differences in neural mechanosensitivity between patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain with and without neuropathic features (NF and No-NF, respectively).

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional study.

Setting: A primary care center, a hospital physiotherapy outpatient department, and a university campus.

Subjects: Chronic nonspecific neck pain patients classified by the self-completed leeds assessment of neuropathic symptoms and signs pain scale (S-LANSS; 49 patients with NF [S-LANSS ≥ 12] and 50 patients with No-NF [S-LANSS < 12]) and a healthy control group (n = 48).

Methods: The primary measurements were the mechanosensitivity of the median nerve and cervical region, specifically the assessment of the onset of symptoms and submaximal pain intensity according to the upper limb neural test 1 (ULNT1) for the median nerve and the modified passive neck flexion test (MPNFT) for the cervical region; secondary measurements included pain intensity, neck disability, kinesiophobia, and pain catastrophizing.

Results: Statistically significant differences between the NF and No-NF groups were found with respect to the onset of symptoms of ULNT1 (-15.11 [-23.19 to -7.03]) and MPNFT (-6.58 [-11.54 to -1.62]), as well as the outcomes of the visual analogue scale (Mean difference [95% Confidence Interval]; 7.12 [1.81-12.42]) and neck disability index (3.72 [1.72-5.71]). Both chronic nonspecific neck pain groups showed statistically significant differences compared with the control group for all outcomes assessed (P < 0.01) except for the onset of symptoms of ULNT1 in the No-NF group.

Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that chronic nonspecific neck pain patients with NF have greater neural mechanosensitivity, pain intensity, and neck disability than those with No-NF.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Neuralgia / diagnosis
  • Neuralgia / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement* / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome